Studying at the University of Otago is so much more than an excellent academic experience – the accommodation you choose can shape your whole Otago experience.
Otago’s Residential College community offers a supportive and collegial living experience, while living in a shared University-managed flat will enable you to develop the valuable life skills of responsibility and independence, whilst still receiving support in a collegiate based community.
Private accommodation in Dunedin is in high demand and many students sign a lease (contract) for a flat/house/room many months in advance of the lease beginning. Most students return to Dunedin in January or February, resulting in peak demand for the remaining rental properties and rooms. During this time, it may take weeks rather than days to find private accommodation. We recommend that students view their potential accommodation in person before they sign a lease, so organising some short-term (temporary) accommodation is advised.
There are several accommodation options for international students studying at the different campuses of the University of Otago. When considering which would suit you best, it is important to consider whether you prefer an independent lifestyle or enjoy living in a community, like to cook for yourself or prefer to have your meals provided, and your budget.
University-owned (Dunedin only)
University-owned accommodation provides a safe and supportive environment, with academic support and cultural, sporting and social opportunities, conveniently located so residents can easily access the nearby campus and surrounding city.
Most school-leaver, first year students will stay in a University Residential College which is on- or near-campus dormitory-style accommodation.
UniFlats offers a shared flatting situation where a local host student lives with several international students. UniFlats are the recommended option for Study Abroad and Exchange students. Postgraduate students can also apply for UniFlats.
Note: Study Abroad students may have a different process for accommodation application and payment – please check with your home institute or Study Abroad provider)
Several people (usually between 3 and 7) live in a house together sharing kitchen, bathroom, laundry and living areas, along with each having their own separate bedroom. Living in a flat is the quintessential Otago experience, allowing students to manage their own living arrangements, and helping them to develop the independence for which Otago graduates are renowned.
Many students choose to live in a studio room, where they have their own room and bathroom (possibly some basic kitchen facilities), and a shared kitchen, living room and other common areas used by all tenants.
Some students live with a local family in their home, in homestay accommodation. Students are provided with their own bedroom and most meals, and the chance to build a relationship with a local family. Homestay accommodation is typically further from campus.
The University of Otago Pathway programme and Language Centre manage homestays.
Applying for University-owned accommodation
Accommodation in Dunedin is in high demand and students are encouraged to consider their accommodation options early, and if applying to a Residential College or UniFlats, to apply as early as possible.
How to apply
As students are required to have started an Otago admission application in eVision prior to applying for accommodation, we encourage you to do the following as soon as possible:
As part of the application process, you will need to get a teacher to complete a Common Confidential Reference Form (CCRF) or two character references if you have left school more than two years ago.
Do not delay in getting this form completed as your application will not be processed until the Accommodation Office has received it.
- If you are currently in a New Zealand school, or attended a New Zealand school in 2022, make an online request for a Common Confidential Reference:
Common Confidential Reference online request form
- If you are currently in a school not in New Zealand, or attended a school not in New Zealand in 2022, download a copy of the Common Confidential Reference Form, fill out section A of the form, and forward it to your school. The school must then complete section B of the form and send it directly to the Student Accommodation Centre.
Common Confidential Reference Form (CCRF) (PDF)
Key accommodation application dates
|Applications open||Applications close|
|Full year or semester 1 (February–June)|
|• Residential Colleges (for onshore international students)||1 August||30 September|
|• Residential Colleges (for offshore international students)||1 August||1 December|
|• UniFlats||1 August||1 December|
|Semester 2 (July–November)||1 April||1 June|
Students under the age of 18
The Education (Pastoral Care of Tertiary and International Learners) Code of Practice 2021 (the Code) requires that all students who will be under the age of 18 at the time of enrolment live in one of the following options:
- an approved residential college:
- in a homestay
- with a designated caregiver
- with their parents
While under the age of 18, students will be required to meet with an International Student Adviser quarterly to discuss accommodation, academic progress, general health and well-being, and any concerns and complaints they may have.
Pathway | Te Huarahi students
Salmond College is the only Residential College that accepts applications from students in the Pathway | Te Huarahi programme.
Families and couples
A limited number of UniFlats are available for small families and couples, or you may consider private accommodation. Contact the Student Accommodation Centre for more information.
The most commonly used accommodation option by students in Dunedin is shared flatting. This involves living in a house with other people and sharing kitchen, bathroom and living room, whilst having your own bedroom. The quality of private accommodation varies significantly and students are encouraged to view their potential accommodation in person before they sign a lease.
NauMai NZ provides more information on housing in New Zealand
Finding private accommodation
To assist with your search for private accommodation below are the links for popular places to search for houses/ flats in Dunedin.
You may wish to consider organising some short-term accommodation options if you are in one of the following situations:
- you intend to find your own accommodation when you arrive in Dunedin
- you arrive before your accommodation is available
- you wish to see the accommodation before you sign a lease (recommended)
Short-term accommodation options
Check via Property Real Estate Managers
Where to get help
The Student Accommodation Centre staff look after the application process for University-managed Accommodation – Residential Colleges and UniFlats. Once international students have received an offer of an academic place, their accommodation application will be forwarded to their first preference for consideration.
The Student Accommodation Centre can also provide some advice around private accommodation options.